For some of us, animals are a part of our soul. We connect with animals, grieve for their heartache, and find joy in their joy.Many people connect with animals so well because they are pure beings of sorts and tend to be victims of circumstance. Our hearts are affected by them, and therefore, many people discover the issues they face all over the globe and decide to do something about it. This is a great thing but it can be difficult to know where to start or how to help. Truthfully any small gesture can mean a huge difference for an animal. For animal lovers that want to help those furry faces in need, there are many easy options available to help.
1. Start Your Own ProgramBefore deciding anything, decide which aspect of animal welfare is most important to you. Maybe it's helping feral cats in your neighborhood or maybe its elephant poaching in Africa. This will give you a more concrete idea of what you can do to aid these animals. Decide on a goal, a plan of action, and the end result you are looking for. Perhaps your plan is to make enclosures for feral cats to stay warm in the winter, you want to raise money to adopt an elephant, or you want to start a blanket collection for your local shelter. Make a social media page about it to send to friends, share your goal with those that can help, and decide on your commitment. This can be a onetime program, an annual fundraiser, or something that is constant.
2. Join an OrganizationJoining an organization is great because you are joining in on an idea that was preconceived, is already up and running, and isn't as daunting as starting your own program. Again, decide on what your vision is. Are you looking for a local organization to help with, an international program to donate to, or something different? Many organizations require volunteer work or donations, but joining in and becoming a part of an organization is a little different from just donating or volunteering. This can include becoming a part of an animal rescue team, joining the ASPCA, or becoming a part of a local organization that creates dog toys for rescued dogs. Whichever you decide, make sure you are able to keep your commitments to them and enjoy the change you'll make for the animals that rely on the organization you join.
3. DonateDonating money is a great way to help animals especially if you are looking for a one time donation or a way to help when you have a busy schedule. Many shelters allow you to be a virtual foster or donate a specific amount each month. Others offer gifts with each donation or pictures of the animals you are virtually adopting, fostering, or helping. This is a great way to visualize the help you are giving to the animals at your organization of choice. All of the organizations that help these animals in need are non-profits and rely on donations and government assistance to stay in business and help animals in need. Donating doesn't have to break your bank either, you can decide to donate to your favorite charity every Christmas, or pay for one cat's adoption fee twice a year or so. Every little bit counts and your donation amount and frequency is up to you.
4. VolunteerVolunteering your time is another great and incredibly useful way to aid animals that need help. As mentioned before, shelters and nonprofits rely on donations and government assistance, so they can't always afford to pay a full staff. Many shelters and programs have organized volunteer services so you have an easier and more beneficial time volunteering. You can volunteer at your local shelter as a dog walker, help organize events for spay and neuter programs, or volunteer to offer equine massages for horses at a sanctuary. You don't have to sacrifice all of your free time and, instead, just agree to volunteer one hour a week, once a month, or even at one event a year. Any time you give to any organization will be greatly appreciated, even if it isn't much.
5. AdoptAlong with virtual adoption is the opportunity to actually adopt an animal. Not all animals in need have this option (unfortunately we can't take home a lion in need), but the greatest gift you can give a shelter animal is a home of their own. All efforts for every shelter worker, every dollar donated, and every minute spent volunteering is for these animals to be safe, happy, and healthy. The ultimate goal is to watch them walk out of the shelter with a family that will take over the responsibility to keep them safe, happy, and healthy. If you're considering adopting and want to go the extra mile, consider an older dog. Older dogs are calmer, sometimes better behaved and, contrary to popular belief, are just as capable as younger dogs of learning new tricks. Also, older cats, and all animals that are black in color tend to be adopted last. Even just considering the idea of doing something to help animals in need is a great start to making a difference. Thankfully many people out there have the same idea in mind and offer plenty of programs, organizations, and tools to help you make a difference and help an animal in need. Every little bit of time you can offer an animal can make a world of difference, so start a program, join an organization, donate some money, volunteer your time, or adopt a fuzzy face of your own and make a difference in an animal's life.
Chelsy Ranard Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She is passionate about animal rights, bad television, and white wine. She is a volunteer at Simply Cats in Boise.